The ignorance of memory

A packet of my past is buried in the bottom desk drawer.
I don’t know what these dozen letters say,
even though I wrote them.

The recipient stood in my kitchen yesterday,
handed them to me – a birthday present, he said,
that money couldn’t buy.
The letters, neatly rubber banded together, were in chronological order.

He read them before the return
giving him the advantage
of refreshed memories. I am, however,
more comfortable in my ignorance.

There are things I remember:
sweaty backseat makeout sessions,
his sister dying in a car wreck,
the ways he planned to change the world.

And once, riding shotgun with our friend Doris,
I turned around in the seat, on my knees.
As he caught my hands in his, our eyes met and locked together.
I was the first one to look away.

The next-to-last envelope is dated July 25, 1977. The last one,
twelve months later, is an invitation to my wedding.
He gave us a place setting of our dishes,
a gracious gesture from a jilted lover.
Those same plates watched him hand me the letters.

Tonight, when I replaced the rubber band with a narrow red ribbon,
I realized that he’s not yet broken his gaze.

Lubbock, Texas
March 2006

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